Salem State earns the number one seed in the 2018 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament which starts on Tuesday with the quarterfinal round of play.
In the quarterfinal round, third seed MCLA will host sixth seed Framingham State at 6 pm on Tuesday, February 20 while fourth seed Fitchburg State entertains fifth seed Westfield State at 7 pm. Top seed Salem State will play the winner of Fitchburg State/Westfield State on Thursday, February 22 at 7 pm while second seed Bridgewater State will host the winner of MCLA/Framingham State also at 7 pm.
The winner of the two semifinal contests will then face off on Saturday, February 24 at the highest remaining seed for the MASCAC Tournament Title and the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Getting a first round bye and top seed, Salem State went a perfect 12-0 in conference play to earn the regular season champion crown. The Vikings’ duo of Shaquan Murray and Drew Healy had a strong regular season for the team. Murray was second in the league in points per game (16.4) and fifth in free throw percentage (79.2) while tallying 37 assists and 24 steals. Healy led the league in field goal percentage (61.7), total rebounds (268), offensive rebounds (92), defensive rebounds (176) and blocks (56) while netting 13.9 points per game.
Earning the other first round bye is second seed Bridgewater State. The Bears were 9-3 in league action. Rocky DeAndrade finished second in three-point percentage at 41.6, third in the league in points per game with 16.2, free throw percentage at 83.6 and fifth in both total points with 373 and assists with 73. He also added 78 rebounds and 29 steals this season.
MCLA grabs the third seed after finishing MASCAC play with a 6-6 mark. The Trailblazers were led by Adam Conquest who led the team in points per game (13.7) while averaging the third-best field goal percentage in the league (51.2) and fourth-best rebounds per game (9). He also collected 17 assists, 16 blocks and seven steals on the year.
Grabbing the fourth seed is Fitchburg State with a 6-6 mark in conference play. The Falcons Jonathan Perez averaged 14.2 points per game while shooting 75.7% from the free throw line and made 41 assists with 125 total rebounds and 30 steals during the regular season.
Closing out this year’s tournament field is Westfield State and Framingham State with the fifth and sixth seed, respectively. The Owls had five wins during the league campaign this season. Marcus Collins finished in the top 10 of several MASCAC categories, including third in total rebounds (237), rebounds per game (9.9), offensive (87) and defensive (150) rebounds. He also was fourth in field goal percentage (50.7), steals (36) and blocks (29) while averaging 15.5 points per game. The Rams tallied two wins in MASCAC play. Manny Payton closed out the regular season fourth in the conference in points per game with 16.1 while also tallying 118 rebounds, 48 assists, 21 steals and 13 blocks with a 65.8 free throw percentage.
At last year’s MASCAC Tournament Championship top seed Salem State defeated fifth seed Worcester State 100-82 for their 17th MASCAC Tournament title and the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.